5 key features to look for in a data classification tool

Accurate, persistent data classification is the foundation of an effective and efficient data security strategy, but the right data classification software can also enhance your organization’s ability to comply with the strict requirements of data privacy regulations and reduce the impact of a data breach in the event one occurs.

Let’s take a look at key capabilities the “right” data classification software should possess, and why they’re so important.

The essential capabilities of data classification tools

Sensitive data classification involves labeling a piece of information after it’s been discovered or created based on criteria, such as data’s level of sensitivity, corresponding privacy regulations, and any internal policies it must adhere to. Classification will ultimately dictate how a piece of data is secured, used, and eventually disposed of, how it must be treated by other platforms and processes in your security stack, and who can access it. To achieve this, your data classification tool needs:

  • Sensitive data discovery
  • Data-centric file tagging
  • Consistent, standardized tags
  • Activity monitoring
  • Integration abilities

1. Sensitive data discovery

In the sequence of data processing events, classification only occurs after a new piece of data is created or existing data is located and identified. In discovering your organization’s sensitive data however and wherever it exists—structured and unstructured; across file types, email servers, cloud repositories, databases, and employee laptops—you gain full visibility of all the sensitive data your organization possesses, enabling classification to commence as accurately as possible, and ensuring no data is left unknown, unprotected, and vulnerable to risk.

2. Data-centric file tagging

The more granular the data labeling, the more effective other security processes and tools in your environment can be. From your data loss prevention (DLP) policy to your Zero Trust approach to your threat response procedure, tagging sensitive data at the file-level provides the context necessary to enable these to perform at maximum efficacy.

A common concern associated with automated data classification software is that information gets wrongfully classified because certain tools are only capable of applying rules to large swaths of data. This results in rules that are too broad and not secure enough for the more sensitive data types, putting security and compliance at risk. When shopping for a data classification tool, be on the lookout for how deep its tagging abilities can go.

3. Consistent, standardized tags

In addition to the depth of tagging, data classification tools must tag using standard nomenclature. One of the key benefits of classification is making sure sensitive data is protected at the source so it can be as safe on the move through other security tools you’ve employed in your environment as it is at rest. When these other tools are able to easily understand data classification labels, they can treat data with the level of protection it requires. If tagging were too particular, there’s no guarantee that data would be treated exactly how it needs to be. All in all, tagging with semantic naming conventions enhances your entire security stack, ensuring compliance and reducing the risk of a data breach, or at least the impacts if one occurs.

4. Activity monitoring

Once classified, sensitive data can be actively monitored for unauthorized or abnormal activity to determine if it may have been wrongfully accessed. In addition to exposing threats in a timely manner, activity monitoring allows organizations to fulfill compliance requirements in the event of an incident by providing accurate auditing and reporting. This makes it easier to determine the source of a breach, speeding up response time and potentially reducing the severity of regulatory penalties.

5. Smooth integration capabilities

While data classification software is a powerful tool and essential to your organization’s security infrastructure, it couldn’t possibly handle all elements of data privacy and protection on its own. It can, however, lay a precise foundation of sensitive data that’s seamlessly accessible by the other systems and tools you have in your security stack, such as those for encryption, rights management, access management, threat detection, and analytics. When your data classification tool can easily integrate with these platforms, you enhance their individual performances and fortify your entire data environment as a result.

Look no further for accurate, persistent data classification software

Spirion offers highly accurate, automated data classification so sensitive data can be tagged and secured as soon as it’s created or discovered in your organization’s environment. Applying context-rich labels that are easily understood by other tools in your security stack, our platform ensures both internal company policies and compliance regulations are enforced when it comes to the securing, processing, and disposing of sensitive data. Contact us today to learn how our scalable data classification solution can help strengthen your security strategy, reduce risk within your environment, and ensure you’re upholding compliance.